* Murray Ritchie's article in The Herald (October 5) on Hibs fans at

the Anderlecht v Hibernian tie in Brussels offered a wry

characterisation of the Scottish supporter from a journalist still

unfamiliar with his recent incarnation. Ritchie's diagnosis on the Jock

abroad suggests plus ca change, plus la meme chose.

My own sociological research at home and abroad, including a

continental tour with Hibs casuals last week, indicates two significant

developments in the behaviour of Scottish fans. These developments

generate tension between fans upholding two extreme types of behaviour:

inebriated good-humour and violence against opposing fans.

First, there is a widespread distinction, increasingly recognised in

Europe as well as at home, between Scottish fans following the national

team and the club fans Murray Ritchie witnessed abroad.

In Switzerland, we had the celebration of defeat, with commentators

venerating the ''hyperreal'' and the ''carnivalesque'' of our kilted

ambassadors abroad. Two weeks later, UEFA classifies as ''high-risk''

two European ties involving Scottish clubs, following missile attacks on

a Belgian player at Easter Road.

Secondly, the ''traditional'' sectarianism of domestic fixtures has,

since the early 1980s, been substantially augmented by the growth of

''casual'' soccer hooligan sub-cultures at erstwhile ''provincial''

clubs. Both sectarian and casual violence is simply incongruous when

following the national team abroad.

At least in terms of excursions outwith Scotland, the premier casual

formation north of the Border follows Hibernian. Three years ago, around

150 Hibs casuals, the Capital City Service (CCS), ''done'' Milwall,

Liege and Anderlecht rivals in various jaunts south.

Hibs casuals' emphasis on battle with foreign opponents is premised on

necessity as much as a taste for the exotic. They bemoan both the

failure of opposing Scottish ''mobs'' to visit Edinburgh in combative

mood, and the effective policing of their activities at away fixtures.

One of the ''top boys'' reports: ''Aberdeen want to chase you,

Glaswegians want to throw things at you, the rest just run away or don't

even turn up. We just want to stand and fight, and we always go looking

for it.'' And so to my three-day tour with the CCS.

CONVERSATION throughout the journey was unremitting: sexual and racial

politics were much in evidence, but superseded by stories and

expressions of violence. News was exchanged on recent confrontations in

the British football hooligan scene, involving the likes of Chelsea,

Leeds, even Bolton.

These snippets affirm the everyday existence of vibrant, hooligan

sub-cultures across the UK. They also provide a barometer against which

Hibs casuals may debate their own capabilities.

During the excursion less consistency was found in the police and

transport authorities' conflicting strategies for getting us all across

to Belgium and back with the minimum of fuss. The lack of liaison

between the authorities ensured chaotic results.

Conversely, the travel arrangements of the CCS seemed to have been

planned with military precision. About 35 Hibs casuals were on the

Sunday 12.35pm Edinburgh-London train. The atmosphere on board was

boisterous and merry.

But these high-jinks hardly square with British Rail's attempt to put

the blame for two Hibs fans' deaths, falling from this train, back on

the passengers.

The tragedy occurred near Huntingdon, and by that stage we were

already marooned at Peterborough's platform four, with local police

threatening to arrest anyone leaving. The ensuing trip to Harwich was

uneventful. There was no reason for the ''press'' (undoubtedly the

National Football Intelligence Unit) photographing those alighting at

the station; nor the ferry captain's decision to refuse 40 fans passage

to Hoek van Holland.

He needn't have worried: it would be a cardinal sin for any

self-respecting Hibs boy to be nicked before the main action is

encountered in Belgium. The police seemed unprepared for the refusal,

and decided the best option would be to move us all into someone else's

jurisdiction, while staying in conciliatory, even cordial, vein.

BR colluded and provided free transfer to the south coast. This

included an improbable nine free taxis from Faversham after we had

missed the rail connection to Dover. The captain on the 5.30am Monday

ferry to Ostend had no cause for complaint either.

Arriving at 10.45am, the mood encountered from the latest constabulary

had changed again, this time to one of ''strict enforcement''. The

planned departure to Amsterdam would have been routine but for the

machinations of one officer, an over-zealous skinhead, animating a

portly frame, baton, emaciated Alsatian and San Fransciscan moustache

with a vigour bordering on incitement.

Insisting that we all be seated, he entered the train and began

distributing restraint with a poorly padded cosh. Heads were cracked

open. When some boys remonstrated his hand reached for his pistol before

he strode out the next exit. Two more police vans arrived, three fans

were nicked for being drunk and were deported, and two hours later we

were on our way.

At Amsterdam, digs were quickly located in the red-light district and

it was off in pursuit of quarry for the first time. Not illicit drugs --

Hibs casuals detest the Heroin City image of Edinburgh. And not so much

the neon-lit, goldfish bowl sex, though the majority were adept at

bartering over 20-minute favours for 50 guilders maximum.

Rather, the main objective appeared to be menacing Rangers fans en

route to Denmark. A bar was wrecked, to the congratulations of older

Hibs fans who had been harassed by the Rangers fans inside. Later

another fan, faced with the same kicking meted out to more than 20 of

his cohorts, immersed himself in a local canal. The laughing Hibs boys

compensated by taking pictures of his inelegant backstroke through

waters peppered with needles and excreta.

The police had their revenge, beating up two boys at a street corner,

and visiting our hotel. The manager counselled me: ''I think your

friends must leave tomorrow -- the police are really angry and will be

round tomorrow night to beat you up.''

We were leaving anyway. Already, several boys were carrying injuries

to add to any slashings received from rivals long before.

Tuesday in Brussels, and the pre-match build-up saw 30 young

Anderlecht fans chased from the Grand Place as a dozen local police and

several hundred Hibs ''cavemen'' (fans in scarves) looked on. Already

there were rumours of immigrant attacks on Hibs fans, with two stabbed

in the red-light sector the night before, but most seemed determined to

uphold the new self-image of Scots fans abroad.

Hibs casuals dismiss the hypocrisy of drunken theatrics with disdain.

''They say we're giving Scottish fans a bad name, you know, spoiling our

reputation abroad. Okay, they're getting pissed and being friendly with

everyone and in the papers for it, but when they're back in Possilpark

or wherever, they're back to stabbing each other, and battering the wife

and that.''

Several Hibs fans saved a lone Anderlecht fan from assault by

increasingly intoxicated casuals, and almost came under attack


Some fans climbed aboard a make-shift pedestal and waved flags and

banners to supporters gathered below, cameras primed. A couple of

casuals unfurled a large ''CCS'' banner to an ambivalent audience.

Later, at the end of the match that night, Hibs players were to raise

fans' banners and wave them to cheering supporters.

One group of players innocently unveiled the CCS logo to an appalled

support, realised their faux pas and dropped the emblem. One player had

the courtesy to return it to its owners, some of whom were in the

process of tearing the perimeter fencing down.

Two hours before kick-off, and Hibs casuals were making more public

pronouncements. A police captain's attempted address to a 200-strong

group of fans failed dismally as several casuals commandeered his

loud-hailer and shouted gang slogans through it.

The police escort to the ground was equally doomed, as 30 casuals

poured on to the tube, kicked in the windows and descended on a Moroccan

area near the stadium. A furniture store was soon wrecked by the more

drunken members of the party. The immigrant proprietors congregated and

support was quickly at hand to defend their property.

One boy moving out of the area was set upon, and had his throat slit

from behind. Somehow the blade missed his main artery. Some casuals were

eventually arrested, while the majority were chased back to the tube

station by knife-wielding locals.

The return trip to the ground saw the area full of police and Hibs

fans. Near the ground, Hibs casuals then attempted to attack two pubs

full of Anderlecht fans who were not interested in fighting. Police

repelled the Scots, firing CS gas into the crowd. Thirty casuals

returned to the Hibs end, eyes streaming, to be greeted by a senior CID

officer from Lothian and Borders Police, there ''purely as an


He had no qualms about approaching the top boys directly: the two

sides established adversaries. ''I'm warning you, don't get involved.

There's 20,000 of them, and they're out for blood,'' he reported. It was

difficult to tell if his figures referred to Anderlecht fans or the

ubiquitous police, or perhaps some unholy alliance.

But the advice was a ruse. Two minutes later, riot police surrounded

those without tickets to arrest a dozen ''for their own safety and

protection''. The total number of casuals nicked throughout the night

escalated to 30.

Strangely, one fan bedecked in colours was allowed to leave the

cordon. But only after the Edinburgh officer was consulted by the

Belgian police over his protestations of being ''an ordinary fan''. I

was left to reflect ruefully that this was the first piece of liaison

I'd seen between any two authorities since leaving Scotland.

There were, as Ritchie reported, no charges levied against anyone --

but then that was only half the story.

* Richard Giulianotti, of the department of sociology, Aberdeen

University, is the editor of Football, Violence and Social Identity, to

be published next year by Routledge.